With the new year, it’s common to see “new year, new me posts” all over social media, and as a result, many feel the pressure to be skinnier, have clear skin, be in a relationship, and more. While it’s good to be motivated to improve, it becomes harmful when we continuously compare ourselves to others on social media. It creates a false sense of happiness if we get to check off all of these boxes, resulting in us questioning our sense of self-worth if we were unable to fulfill them.
I feel pressured to live up to Western and Chinese beauty standards as a Chinese-Canadian. Having large eyes with double eyelids, a small face, pale skin, manhua legs (legs that are long and thin like in manhuas), and being thin are the standards in China. Whereas here, having an hourglass figure, a sharp jawline, tanned skin, high cheekbones, and full lips are the standards. It’s interesting to see how two countries halfway across the world can have such drastic beauty standards. For instance, having a specific skin colour symbolizes wealth. In China, having pale skin is desirable as it indicates that you don’t have to stay in the sun all day doing fieldwork. Whereas in North America, having tanned skin is desirable as it indicates you can afford to spend time abroad in warmer places. Seeing so many young women on social media who fit either of these standards made me associate looks with self-worth. However, they represent a small fraction of our population, and it’s okay if I don’t look like them.
As someone who does not fit entirely into either of these standards, I reasoned that I wasn’t one of “those” girls who were pretty according to society’s beauty standards for a long time. However, when I recently watched a couple of young women challenge beauty standards on TikTok, I realized that there was something wrong with society’s perception of beauty. A TikTok by Logan Hill who conveyed that contrary to a conventional glow-up (losing weight and becoming prettier), gaining some weight while becoming happier is also a glow-up, perhaps an even better one.
Like many of us, I am still working on my self-confidence. I understand that it takes time and support to reach my end goal. In the meantime, we need to remind ourselves to be kind to ourselves and make society’s standards meet us instead.